Family Meals in Dubai
As a kid growing up in Dubai, U.A.E., during the 80s my life was easy and fun. My mother was a home maker and my father worked for a local English newspaper as a photographer. Being the only child, I had the undivided attention of both my parents. My mother used to cook all the meals hot and fresh every day and we sat down to enjoy it. Dad on occasion would assist Mom in the kitchen with all the prep work and help when required. Cooking good food was not only an integral part of domestic affairs but was essential to our health. We lived to eat and savored every moment at the dinner table with family and friends. The aroma of fresh ground spices and seafood was always present in our home.
My curiosity with different cuisines started as a mere observation while dining in restaurants with my parents or ordering take out. As we waited for food, I would see what other people have ordered and wished we ordered the same. Often times I would go outdoors to see how the kebabs, stir fry and naans were being cooked. Kitchens were the most interesting places, since they were open in a way you can partially see inside and that is what fed my curiosity.
Unlike my parents, I was always a food explorer at heart but that did not manifest until I came to Toronto, Canada in 1998 as a University student.
Living in dorms, adjusting to a new environment, culture, lifestyle and people was quite challenging, to add to the pressures of academic performance, deadlines and class schedules, the feeling was overwhelming to say the least.
My second year was much better as I started to settle down and make more friends, I spent weekends at their homes catching up on group work and assignments; in the process I also got some delicious home cooked meals. My friends and their family became my extended family; soon I developed a passion for cooking and in particular exploring different cuisines. I picked up quick and easy recipes from family and friends and some television shows. This helped me during busy schedules and reduced my costs of outdoor dining. At other times friends and I would get together and explore restaurants in various ethnic enclaves in the city. What an enriching cultural experience that was!
Today I share my passion with my six year old. I have been getting lots of help since he was four. I encourage him to explore and try new things and educate him on the importance of using his sense of smell, taste, touch, sight and sound. He describes his kitchen experience as fun and always looks forward to making new dishes.